We would love to continue studying without all the pressure, enjoy lectures and spend days in the university library reading interesting books. But we seldom get to touch those books. We must make do with four-hour lectures, sustained by mediocre coffee in the breaks. The library is used for meeting deadlines. Lectures are attended to pass exams. At the end of the journey, we can enjoy our student debt, without truly realising what studying means (or should mean).
Due to lack of time or because it won’t be part of the exam anyway, showing an interest is sometimes not even desired. It seems that it’s more important for students to pass exams than leave university with real knowledge. Remember this, forget that. Furthermore, time and contact with professors and lecturers is minimal, meaning that students miss out on more depth and connection. We have ended up in a barren education culture consisting of hours of exams featuring multiple choice questions and incomprehensible open questions, providing very little scope for (research) essays, presentations or even philosophising or debates: a form of conveyor belt education.
Other factors contribute to the workload too, such as resits which are held in the summer holidays. Another important note is that students who cannot benefit from an existing network need to build one themselves. Furthermore, students who are not financially privileged are required to choose between getting a loan or working very hard alongside their studies.
These years should be about acquiring knowledge, personal development and exploring future opportunities. Instead, more and more students face uncertainty, loneliness, depression and stress. Combining all the requirements – study, internships, part-time jobs, all as quickly as possible – encourages us to make choices based on what is the fastest route, instead of what is good for the student and the discipline.
Respect for those who graduate within the official time. But it’s also fine that not everyone has that ambition or ability. Next time someone asks me whether I’ve nearly finished my studies, I’ll say that studying isn’t the same as it used to be, but that like in the past, we just want to be a student. By extending my studies, I’ve taken the time to be entrepreneurial, to contribute to society and develop myself. Having such a useful extra year isn’t asking too much, is it? Leave us alone – we’ll graduate when we’re ready.